Writer: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Panic Room", and “Straw Dogs”
In 2022, the United States would be a warped dystopia with the lowest rates of crime and poverty ever recorded when their New Founding Fathers have implemented an annual event known as the Purge. Once a year, for a period of 12 hours, all emergency services are shut down and all acts that would be considered criminal from theft, rape and murder in an otherwise law-governed society are free to be committed without any legal repercussions, as long as they happen within the allotted time.
While it would be easy for any audience to dismiss the entire premise with clever reasoning on how a real government would not allow Purging to happen in reality, or have endless suggestions on how they would be able to evade said Purging, but if audiences were willing to accept writer and director James DeMonaco's invitation to be engrossed in his sophomore directional, "The Purge" does raise some tough questions that may make you tick and think more than you should for a movie created with a microbudget.
With some very strong sense of writing, DeMonaco's premise works on many levels and even attacks his own premise with various questions that can raise some very meta-discussions about what you would do if you are allowed to live your most violent fantasies on the ones you think whose existence is undeserved, whether morally or reasonably justified or not.
DeMonaco slowly builds up "The Purge" to be an examination of whether society can be trusted to regulate itself through natural laws of survival of the fittest, and whether or not the unnatural suppression of human's primal acts out of fear, anger and frustration is the root cause of an unequal society.
The movie doesn't sacrifice its concept with poor execution as it heightens the suspense and tension with some deft but otherwise generic cinematographic techniques befitting a home invasion flick, but this is helped by solid performances from its cast despite the one-note role that they are supposed to play. Hawke and Headley show little trouble playing the concerned and protective parents for their children who just want to get through the night, and the superficial motivations doesn't stop an iconic performance by Australian actor Rhys Wakefield as the charming leader of the cult-like witch hunters that had gathered outside the Sandins door.
Unfortunately, by the time the walls come crashing down in the third act, all the integrity and context of "The Purge" go down with it. Not that one would expect that this was not going down to have meaningless bloodshed by the end, but all the brilliant conceptual buildup ended up being meaningless. All the tough questions that had been meticulously asked received too convenient of an answer, or sometimes the questions are removed from the thought process entirely. The level of attention to detail in securing the premise as seen in the beginning is also lost as the plot starts to crack when the killing starts.
As the siren sounds for the end of "The Purge", audiences are left with a fairly original premise with boundless mind twisting potentials, and it would be something to see what visionary directors from the generation like Nolan or Aronofsky could mold out of it. But in the hands of James DeMonaco, it is just a prelude of an idea that has succumbed to the dollars of the inevitable franchise that will be built on the dead corpses it leaves behind, with many more to come in formulaic sequels and knock-offs. Cinema Online, 27 August 2013